Rent celebrates its 20th birthday this year and there’s a tour heading to Liverpool’s Echo Arena with Natasha Hamilton and Superstar alumnus (and Wirral lad) Rory Taylor in lead roles.
Set in the Lower Manhattan’s East Village, Rent is loosely on Puccini’s La Boheme and follows a year in the life of a group of friends trying to make it in a big city under the shadow of HIV.
Lathered with plaudits and winner of not only a Tony Award for Best Musical, but also the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the musical is a pop phenomenon that has retained its appeal over two decades. We asked Taylor how he’s getting on so far – and what’s so good about Rent anyway.
SS: Was taking a role in such a well-loved production daunting?
Rory Taylor: “Prior to casting I’d heard some of the music and knew there was a film version, but I’d not seen it. When I told a friend I’d been offered the role they told me to take it as soon as I could!
“Taking on the role in a production with such a loyal following was daunting but they are a hugely supportive group of fans and I feel like we are doing a great job of bringing the energy and life to the piece every night.”
SS: Presumably this posed a different challenge to other roles?
RT: “It’s so different to my experience on Superstar – the two things are so different. Performing rock and pop songs with a band has always been my comfort zone, so I didn’t find the TV show too difficult.
“Playing Roger was a challenge, because I’d never had to think so deeply about a performance, I’d normally left it to how I felt at the time. With a character, it’s no longer about you, you have to know how they would have felt. That took quite a lot of getting used to for me.”
SS: It’s 20 years old but Rent still resonates today. Why is that?
RT: “Rent will only get better with age – the issues dealt with in the show will always be relevant: It’s about love and relationships, whether that’s between lovers or friends, and how they cope through some fairly testing times, and the message is to live for the moment.
“I don’t think that will ever lose it’s meaning.”
The Auditorium Liverpool, Echo Arena